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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Dainell Simmons' Law: Outlaw Tasers on EDP and general population too.

by: Jo Primo
Stop tasering of people especially emotional disturbed ones. Dainell was only 29 and killed in the Maryhaven Center of Hope in Middle Island, NY on July 24, 2013.
I would like to inform you that an autistic man named Dainell Simmons was killed by Suffolk police yesterday July 24, 2013 at a group home, Maryhaven Center of Hope in Middle Island, NY.  He was tasered twice and pepper sprayed and died at the hospital shortly after.
Please pass this information on. This deceased, at the hands of police, disabled man needs a voice. Thank you.

Please Sign 

The making of a racist travesty

The charges of first-degree murder for the killing of an infant in a small Georgia town bear the hallmarks of notorious racist frame-ups of the past, writes Jen Roesch.
De'Marquis Elkins appears in the Glynn County Court 
De'Marquis Elkins appears in the Glynn County Court
THE STATE of Georgia seems to be in the process of adding another travesty of justice to the long list of them inflicted on African Americans.
Two Black teenagers have been imprisoned without bail for more than four months on charges that they shot and killed an infant at point-blank range after her mother told them she had to money. But there are no witnesses other than the mother, no physical evidence tying the two accused to the crime, and no real explanation for why the young men would commit such a cold-blooded crime.
The only "evidence" against them is the claims of the white mother, which have holes and inconsistencies--and an ugly campaign by authorities and the media to portray one of the accused, along was his whole family, as a bunch of criminals and thugs.
From the behavior of cops and prosecutors to the media circus that has surrounded the case, the so-called "Baby Santiago" murder bears all the hallmarks of racist frame-ups of the past. In the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, this case shows another face of the criminal injustice system--and how it is saturated with racism, through and through.
The murder of 13-month old Antonio Santiago in Brunswick, Ga., began to dominate the news headlines in late March. The baby's mother, Sherry West, said she was pushing the baby in his stroller when she was approached by two Black teenagers. She claimed that they demanded money--and that when she told them she didn't have any, they walked around the stroller to shoot the baby in the face.
A few days later, 17-year-old De'Marquis Elkins and 15-year-old Dominique Lang were arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
The arrests happened around the same time Zimmerman was preparing for the murder trial, so the Georgia case immediately became a focal point for racist right-wingers. Zimmerman's brother immediately tweeted: "'Lib media shld ask if what these2 black teens did 2 a woman&baby is the reason ppl think blacks mightB risky."
CNN's Piers Morgan did a widely broadcast interview with Sherry West where she called for the death penalty for both teenagers. The media speculated about what could possibly have motivated the two teenagers to commit such a terrible crime.
Fast forward to July, and the media are now reporting what they label a "shocking development." The full report from the criminal investigation, which has now been handed over to defense lawyers for the two teens, shows that testing done the day of the murder found gunshot residue on the hands of both West and the baby's father, Luis Santiago.
While this could be explained in West's case by her proximity to the shooting, there is no explanation for why Santiago would have such residue on him. Both parents claim Luis Santiago was shopping at Wal-Mart at the time of the shooting. But the state forensic report states that the evidence "supports the possibility that [Luis Santiago] discharged a firearm, was in close proximity to a firearm upon discharge, or came into contact with an item whose surface bears GSR [gunshot residue]."
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THIS REVELATION certainly raises a case for reasonable doubt that Elkins and Lang killed anyone, but it also sheds light on the pervasive racism that has shaped this case from the beginning.
The prosecution has stated that it doesn't consider either parent a suspect. Even without the recently revealed evidence about gunshot residue, this would be surprising. According to a 2010 CNN report, approximately 550 children killed in the U.S. each year, nearly two-thirds are killed by a parent. Sherry West was the only eyewitness to the crime. On the basis of these two facts alone, she and the father should at least have been considered as potential suspects.
But there are more troubling factors that arose early in the investigation. West's adult daughter told police that she was concerned by her mother asking questions about how quickly she could collect on the baby's life insurance policy. The daughter also said her mother's stories were inconsistent. West herself clearly lied when she told CNN in March that police had conducted forensic testing and not found any gunshot residue. And neither she nor Luis Santiago have a credible story for why residue would have been found on his hands that day.
None of this proves that the parents were involved in the murder of their baby. But the facts do raise questions that should have been and still should be investigated. This is particularly true given the precedent of women killing their own children and pointing the finger at Black men. The most notorious of these cases was Susan Smith, who claimed a Black assailant had carjacked her car, with her sons in the backseat. She later confessed she had drowned the boys by letting the car roll into the water.
However, local police have shown little interest in pursuing any other leads. Sherry West's daughter said that police have not followed up with her after she voiced her suspicions. The police and prosecutors had access to the recently released forensic evidence and apparently didn't follow up with any questioning of either Luis Santiago or Sherry West.
Instead, from the start, local authorities have seemed intent on accepting West's story at face value. Police conducted a local manhunt and then constructed a case against two teenagers when they appeared to fit the bill.
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ALL THIS bears many of the ugly hallmarks of racist frame-ups. As much as this case raises the specter of the Susan Smith trial, it also eerily echoes the false accusations and the media uproar of the Central Park jogger case in New York City in 1989.
In that case, too, there was very little information to go on and no eyewitnesses--the victim of the rape and assault was found barely alive. So police rounded up Black and Brown teenagers, violated their rights, coerced false confessions out of four of them, vilified them and their families, and railroaded them to prison for many years each. They were only proven innocent years later when another man confessed to the crime.
In the Baby Santiago case, the only information police had was West's claim that two Black males, who she estimated to be between the ages of 10 and 15, had committed the crime. West provided no detailed physical description--at one point, she said the younger boy could be as young as 5.
Police went to the local school and asked for attendance records to be turned over to them, and then went door-to-door looking for suspects. This is what led to Elkins and Lang, who were then picked out of a police line-up by West. Both are significantly older than West's initial report.
This eyewitness identification is the main evidence against the two young men. But even setting aside the holes in West's "identification" of the two, we also know from the work of experts such as the Innocence Project that eyewitness misidentification is one of the biggest factors in wrongful convictions. This makes physical evidence and witness credibility all the more important in cases that depend on eyewitness testimony--and neither exist here.
Instead, the case against Elkins and Lang relies on racist assumptions, circumstantial evidence and aggressive policing, bordering on harassment.
Within days of the arrest of the two, Elkins' mother, sister and aunt were all arrested on charges of fabricating false testimony. No one has revealed what the false testimony was, but it seems that the aunt and mother gave conflicting alibis for Elkins. The sister is also charged with dumping a handgun belonging to De'Marquis Elkins. This handgun has been consistently described by police as the murder weapon, but there is no physical evidence to prove that contention.
Incredibly, a Brunswick city commissioner and mayor pro tem--James Henry Brooks Sr., who is African American--was arrested and charged with influencing a witness and obstructing police after he stepped in between Elkins' mother and officers, and advised her not to talk to police without a lawyer present.
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RATHER THAN investigate any of the pressing questions about the parents of the victim or consider the stories of the two young accused, prosecutors and police, along with a willing media, seem intent on destroying the reputation of the entire Elkins family.
Watching news accounts, one could easily conclude that this is a family of hardened criminals. But the women in the family have been charged variously with shoplifting, speeding and driving without a license. De'Marquise's only previous arrest was for marijuana possession. He was recently identified as the suspect in an armed robbery of a local pastor, but he hasn't been convicted. There is nothing in his history or background to suggest he would be the cold-blooded murder of an infant in his stroller.
Yet this is the story that the media have accepted without question for months.
De'Marquise Elkins and Dominique Lang have been behind bars since their arrest--they were denied bail, despite a lack of previous felony convictions. Both young men are being charged as adults with first-degree malice murder and face life in prison if convicted. The only reason they don't face the death penalty is because Georgia bars the execution of juveniles. Elkins' aunt is also still in jail, and all his family members will be tried together in his case. They face trial starting August 19.
Elkins and Lang have pled not guilty, and their lawyers will therefore have the opportunity to show reasonable doubt about their guilt, especially given the police mishandling of the case. But it's chilling to think that, given aggressive prosecution, the two teenagers might easily have been pressured into a guilty plea to a lesser charge in exchange for reduced jail time. If they had, the recently revealed evidence about gunshot residue would have never come to light, and they would have had no opportunity to clear their names.
All this reveals how easily cases can be constructed against Black men for the most heinous crimes, even when there is no actual evidence and plenty of more likely suspects.
It's certainly possible that Elkins and Lang were involved in the murder of Antonio Santiago. But it's equally possible--probably more so--that they were just two Black teenagers who happened to skip school on the wrong day. That's the racist Russian roulette of the U.S. criminal justice system.


They're stealing Bradley Manning's life

Nicole Colson reports on the conviction of military whistle-blower Bradley Manning--and the chilling message it sends about political dissent in the "war on terror" era.
Bradley Manning being led into courtBradley Manning being led into court
MILITARY JUDGE Col. Denise Lind found Pfc. Bradley Manning guilty of almost every charge leveled against him for his role as a military whistle-blower--but not guilty of the most serious charge of "aiding the enemy."
While the outcome on the "aiding the enemy" charge is seen by supporters as a victory, Manning, who released classified documents and video to the muckraking WikiLeaks website, still faces as many as 136 years in prison on 19 other charges, including six counts of violating the Espionage Act and five counts of stealing government property.
The sentencing phase of the trial will begin on July 31 and is expected to take at least a month before Lind rules. But Manning will almost certainly spend most of the rest of his life behind bars--unless pressure is brought to bear on the military to relent.
The not guilty verdict on the most serious charge against Manning--of aiding the enemy--is important. The failure of the government to make this charge stick is an indication of its overreach.
Prosecutors tried a desperate eleventh-hour move to win a guilty verdict on this charge, too. Toward the end of the case, they recalled former Army Specialist Jihrleah Showman--a one-time supervisor of Manning's--who suddenly claimed that Manning had expressed "anti-American" sentiments, and that she had at one time suspected Manning of being a spy. Showman had never documented any of these alleged concerns.
The wild accusations were in keeping with the prosecution's attitude throughout the trial. Manning was portrayed as a traitor and "anarchist," maliciously bent on harming American interests--rather than what he is: someone who believed the American people have the right to know about the crimes being committed by their government in their name.
The outcome on the "aiding the enemy" charge is important for another reason--it represents a small pushback against the Obama administration's all-out war on whistle-blowers. If Manning had been convicted on this charge, it would have opened the door to accusing anyone responsible for publishing classified information, including journalists working for mainstream publications, of treason.
Accoridng to the New York Times, the judge's decision "pulled back from the government's effort to create a precedent that press freedom specialists had warned could have broad consequences for the future of investigative journalism about national security in the Internet era."
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EVEN SO, the conviction on 19 of 21 counts will send a chilling message to other potential government whistle-blowers to not come forward. That Manning likely will spend decades more behind bars--perhaps his whole life--is a travesty of justice for a young soldier whose "crime" was to expose the illegal and barbaric behavior of the U.S. government.
As Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said following the conviction, "Whistle-blowers always know they are taking risks, and the more they reveal, the bigger the threat is against them. But we know they are not betraying the government. And when they contribute vital information to an important public debate, it should not be a crime--especially the kind of crime that sends you to jail for the rest of your life."
There can be no doubt about the importance of what Manning brought to light with his act of conscience in handing over documents to WikiLeaks. According to a statement from Reporters Without Borders:
The information that Manning allegedly passed to WikiLeaks--used by newspapers such as the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and Le Monde in coordination with Julian Assange's website--included revelations of grave abuses in the "war on terror" launched by the Bush administration...Should this reality have been concealed from the U.S. public and international opinion? Which was more serious--committing such crimes or revealing them to the public?
For the Obama administration, the answer to the latter question is obvious. That's why the administration has made a practice of prosecuting whistle-blowers under the 1917 Espionage Act. The law has traditionally been used, as its name implies, against those accused of spying.
Manning is now the seventh whistle-blower during the Obama years to be charged under the Espionage Act. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is the eighth. Under every previous administration combined dating back to 1917, there were just three similar prosecutions.
As Widney Brown, senior director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International, wrote after the verdict:
The government's priorities are upside down. The U.S. government has refused to investigate credible allegations of torture and other crimes under international law despite overwhelming evidence.
Yet they decided to prosecute Manning who it seems was trying to do the right thing--reveal credible evidence of unlawful behavior by the government. You investigate and prosecute those who destroy the credibility of the government by engaging in acts such as torture which are prohibited under the US Constitution and in international law.
The real priorities of the former constitutional law scholar president are all too clear. As the National Lawyers Guild's David Gespass wrote:
Obama came to office promising the most transparent administration ever. He claims that we need an open and frank discussion of what the government should be able to do to protect ourselves from threats, but did so only after its secret operations were exposed. And he aggressively prosecutes those whose actions give rise to the questions he claims should be answered through a national debate...
There are two ways in which any government can seek to control security leaks. The first is by honesty and transparency, by allowing the public to know enough to make democratic decisions about how far is too far. That is the path that the United States, and this president, claims to follow. The second is by threatening draconian consequences to anyone who exposes questionable policies and practices to the light of day. That is the path the United States, and this administration, has chosen with the prosecution of Bradley Manning and others.
No amount of sophistry can hide that truth, try as the administration might. The result, for Bradley Manning, is many years in prison.

2 vital solidarity actions Wed 7-31; 8:30 Inglewood, 12 dwntwn L.A. Fed Bldg

picture by google
People will pack the Inglewood Courthouse, at One Regent Street in Inglewood (one block south of Florence between La Brea and Fir) on Wednesday, July 31 at 8:30 AM, in courtroom 02A, to demand Justice for Etana and Mecca Shakur, two Black Riders Liberation Party comrade sisters, who defended themselves against a racist assault by the Inglewood PD while doing community work, and are falsely charged with alleged assault and Battery on a police officer.

The Hands Off Africa Movement, initiated by the BRLP, is demanding Hands Off Etana and Mecca Shakur, drop all charges! The campaign, which is on-going, is organizing for Justice for Trayvon, support for the prison hunger strikers, to free all political prisoners, and to withdraw all racist US/NATO forces from Africa. They also demand Hands Off Assata Shakur and Cuba.

For more information, contact the BRLP at 323-289-4457, or BlackRiders1996@gmail.com. Endorsed by the Council of Ujima and the Inter-communal Solidarity Committee.

Join family members, Danny Glover, Mike Farrell & religious leaders at a Solidarity Fast
Rally & Press Conference
Wednesday, July 31st
12 noon  2pm
Downtown Los Angeles Federal Building
300 N. Los Angeles Street, LA 90012
On Wednesday July 31st, people around the world will fast and take other peaceful non-violent action in solidarity with the California Prisoner Hunger Strikers. Join family members of hunger strikers along with James Cromwell, Angela Davis, Mike Farrell, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Chris Hedges, Alice Walker, and Cornel West. We fast knowing that the criminalization that killed Trayvon Martin, and the criminalization that justifies the torture of prisoners in solitary confinement, are one and the same.We fast in solidarity with the demands of the hunger strikers. And we fast to get justice for Trayvon and for people of every gender, race and religion who have been killed by state and vigilante violence. Support efforts everywhere for Justice for Trayvon Martin.

“We have taken up this hunger strike and work stoppage... not only to improve our own conditions but also an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world.”   Hunger Strikers in the Short Corridor Collective at Pelican Bay State Prison SHU

Actions so far in: England, Germany, the US (Jackson MI, Los Angeles, Oakland CA, Philadelphia PA, Santa Cruz CA).
For more information, contact: 323 646-1269; 424 744-1156

“Hunger for Justice” convened by members of: Alexandria House; Alliance for Global Justice; Anti-Racist Action-LA; Brandywine Peace Community; California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; California Prisoner Solidarity Coalition; Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB); Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in L.A. Jails; Critical Resistance; DCFS/DHS-Give Us Back Our Children; Ecosocialist Horizons, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network; FACTS Education Fund; Fair Chance Project; Flying Over Walls; Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement/ Nat’l; Freedom Archives; Global Women’s Strike; Hank Jones - San Francisco 8; Homies Unidos; Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; LA Laborfest; LACAN; Lives Worth Saving Gang Intervention; Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater LA; National Hood Alliance; Ordinary People's Society/ Alabama; Palestinian Youth Movement; Payday men’s network; Peter Laarman/Progressive Christians Uniting and Justice not Jails; Prodigal Child Project, Alabama; Project South; Queer Strike; Rev. Louis Logan; Ruckus Society, Scientific Soul Sessions; Sin Barras; Theresa Shoatz - Maroon Philly Committee; Transgender, Gender-Variant, Intersex Justice; US PROStitutes Collective; White Noise Collective; Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike; Youth Justice Coalition.

Follow-up: Sunday, August 4 at 1:00 PM, the Inter-Communal Solidarity Committee (including Break the Lock, Turning the Tide, Hood Health and George Jackson Freedom School programs) will have its monthly meeting at the Left Side Lounge, 1905 Rodeo Rd. between Arlington and Western (just south of the Metro Expo Line); followed at 4:00 PM by a Jericho Amnesty Movement chapter meeting with letter-writing to political prisoners. For more info, call 323-636-7388.


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Report from Palestine Chronicles Sense of Crisis, Hope

We highly recommend this on-the-scene report from our own Matt Meyer of Resistance in Brooklyn.


Report from Palestine Chronicles Sense of Crisis, Hope

Walls Can Come Down

    We want everything, everything, everything

    Other men aspire to.

    What another's entitled to we're entitled to too.

    - lyric excerpt of "Everything," from The Rothschilds musical (Brock & Harnick, 1970)

There is an emergency in Palestine right this very moment, but most internationalists are too caught up in our own entitlements, our own misunderstood history based on Broadway mythologies and Western distortion, to act with the intensity that is warranted. Unless solidarity and struggle shifts into high gear fast, there may be no averting the tragedy already in the making - one on a scale which dwarfs what has come before. These are the thoughts that whirl through this author's head on traveling to the Middle East with my just-turned 13-year-old son, my daughter, and my partner.....

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Supporters of inmates on hunger strike urge Jerry Brown to act

By Melanie Mason
July 30, 2013, 1:41 p.m.
SACRAMENTO — Supporters of California prison inmates on a weeks-long mass hunger strike convened on the Capitol Tuesday morning to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to take a more active role in resolving the protest.
Around 50 people gathered on the Capitol's south lawn to show support for the inmates on strike and call for changes to policies regarding solitary confinement. Three organizers then delivered petitions with more than 70,000 signatures to the governor's office.
Dolores Canales, co-founder of the California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement, broke into tears after presenting the signatures to a member of the governor's staff. 
"These prisoners are so committed to the cause that they would put their own bodies through such suffering and be now on the 23rd day of the hunger strike. It's because the message is of suffering. The message is of torment," said Canales, whose son John Martinez has been incarcerated at the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) for 18 years.
Ronald Ahnen, president of the inmates' rights group California Prison Focus, said the duration of the strike has entered "dangerous territory."
"I have grave concern about the health of the hunger strikers," Ahnen said. "It's time for the governor to step in and put an end to this hunger strike by starting to negotiate with the prisoners."
The demonstrators later marched to the state corrections department headquarters, just under a mile away.
The strike began July 8, as inmates objected to conditions in isolation units and prison gang policies. The corrections department said that as of Monday afternoon, 561 inmates in nine state prisons were considered to be on strike, meaning they have missed nine or more consecutive meals.
At its peak, more than 12,000 inmates were participating in the hunger strike. 385 prisoners have been on strike continuously since it began.
Amber Bernal, 32, said she drove up from San Diego to protest in solidarity with her brother. Ruben Bernal, 37 is an inmate at Pelican Bay SHU, the same isolation unit that houses the organizers of the strike.
Bernal said she and other family members of inmates involved in the strike have become a tight-knit group in their advocacy for their loved ones.
"It's not about the crimes they've done. They're paying the price for their crime already," she said. "We just ask they be treated like human beings. No matter how you slice and dice it, solitary confinement is torture."
Deborah Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the corrections department, said the agency "has taken thoughtful steps over the past two years to improve Security Housing Units because these units serve a vital role in state prisons, keeping staff and other inmates safe from the same violent gangs leading the hunger strike and terrorizing communities across California."
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Suicide of California Hunger Strike Participant Draws National Attention to a Broken System


Picture by google

Over the weekend, news came out that a hunger strike participant at California State Prison, Corcoran had committed suicide. Billy Michael Sell, 32, killed himself on July 22nd, two weeks after the launch of an on-going statewide hunger strike against long-term solitary confinement and related prison conditions. While the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) initially made a point of claiming that Sell was not on hunger strike at the time of his death, it confirmed last afternoon that Sell had been on strike from July 8th until July 21st while in the Security Housing Unit (SHU).The Kings County Coroner confirmed on Monday that Sell died as a result of hanging while in solitary confinement. Sell, unlike most California hunger strikers, was in the SHU since December 2007 for murdering his cellmate. Approximately 3,000 of the 4,500 men held in the SHU are there for alleged gang affiliation, and the remaining 1,500 are generally there for set terms for disciplinary infractions.
Sell, nicknamed “Guero” by those who knew him, had been incarcerated since 1999 on a life-sentence for attempted murder. Regardless of what one thinks about the conduct of people in prison, the suicide of prisoners and the desperation that has prompted three statewide California prison hunger strikes is indicative of a system in crisis. California remains under federal court supervision to ensure that California reduces its overcrowded prison system, delivers Constitutionally acceptable health services, and protects those diagnosed as mentally ill.In his review of the 34 suicides in CDCR facilities in 2011, Dr. Patterson found that:
  • 24 of 34 (70.6%) committed suicide in single-cell status
  • 20 of 34 (61.8%) had a history of suicidal behavior
  • 30 of 34 (88.2 %) had a history of mental health treatment
  • 9 of 34 (26.5%) committed suicide in Administrative Segregation
  • 2 of 34 (5.9%) committed suicide in the Security Housing Unit
  • 1 of 34 (2.9%) committed suicide on death row
  • 5 of 34 (14.7%) suicides were discovered after the process of rigor mortis had begun, indicating 2-3 hours had passed before the individuals were discovered
  • 25 of 34 (73.5%) cases showed significant indications of inadequate assessment, treatment, or intervention
Things were more or less the same in his review of the first 15 suicides in 2012:
  • 9 of 15 (60%) committed suicide in single-cell status
  • 9 of 34 (60%) had a history of  suicidal behavior
  • 11 of 15 (73.3 %) had a history of past mental health treatment
  • 6 of 15 (40%) committed suicide in Administrative Segregation
  • 1 of 15 (6.6%) committed suicide in the Security Housing Unit
  •  3 of 15 (20%) suicides were discovered after the process of rigor mortis had begun, indicating 2-3 hours had passed before the individuals were discovered
  • 13 of 15 (86.6%) cases showed significant indications of inadequate assessment, treatment, or intervention
As is clear from this data, the suicides in California prisons disproportionately occur in segregation units, and particularly with inmates in solitary confinement. Solitary Watch has previously reported on suicides in solitary confinement units. In 2011, prisoners Armando Cruz and Alex Machado committed suicide in California State Prison, Sacramento’s Psychiatric Services Unit and Pelican Bay State Prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit, respectively. Both had spent years in segregation units, both had a history of self-harm and threatening to commit suicide. Cruz had entered the prison system at the age of 17 with a heavily documented history of psychosis, and his hallucinations are documented to have become worse while being placed in and out of segregation units.  Machado was known as an intelligent jailhouse lawyer with no history of psychological problems until being placed in segregation at Pelican Bay following his validation as an associate of the Mexican Mafia prison gang. Machado would attempt suicide and exhibit bizarre behavior and paranoia in the months before committing suicide.
In August 2012, Armando Morales committed suicide in Corcoran’s SHU. Morales, a Watts, California native, had spent years in the SHU. Morales, according to individuals on his cell block, reported that he committed suicide amidst pressure to debrief (or, “snitch”) on fellow prisoners.
Meanwhile, over 561 prisoners in nine prisons were on hunger strike as of yesterday. According to CDCR, 322 have been on hunger strike the entire three weeks. CDCR has previously said that hunger strikers who have accepted drinks such as Kool-Aid were not going to be considered on hunger strike, so the 561 figure may reflect individuals who have accepted Kool-Aid but then rejected anything else since and are now once again considered on hunger strike. According to CDCR policy, an individual is only counted on hunger strike after refusing nine consecutive meals. Solitary Watch has also received reports that individuals at Pelican Bay who had ended their participation have stated that they may resume striking should guards move hunger strike participants to Ad Seg.
With the death of Sell, and the hunger strike now over three weeks, there has been a growing spotlight on California, with Hollywood stars even announcing their support for reforms. With thousands in solitary confinement and the prison system driving dozens a year to suicide, increasing attention at least raises the possibility of meaningful policy review and reforms.
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Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Mediators working on behalf of California prisoners on hunger strike are calling for an independent investigation into the July 22 death of Billy “Guero” Sell, a prisoner held in solitary confinement at Corcoran State Prison and a participant in the 3-week-long hunger strike that has shaken the California prison system. Sell’s death is being ruled a suicide by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Prison officials met with mediators last Tuesday, but failed to disclose the fact that a hunger strike participant had died the previous day. 
“We are calling for an independent investigation to determine the circumstances around Sell’s death, not just the ultimate cause”, said Ron Ahnen of the mediation team. “The CDCR could have negotiated the demands of the prisoners well before the strike began.  Had they done so, I am convinced that Billy Sell would still be with us today."

Fellow prisoners reported that Sell had been requesting medical attention for several days prior to his death. Attorneys received numerous reports of medical neglect of the health needs of the strikers, and these reports have generated an outcry from the medical community. Over 100 health care providers have signed onto a letter denouncing the CDCR’s failure to provide appropriate medical care to the strikers. It says in part:

We urge CDCR to ensure that no prisoner on hunger strike be disciplined or threatened with the denial of medical care, that prisoners not be denied liquids, vitamins or any other form of sustenance they are willing to take, and that they receive appropriate medical care. We demand all medical professionals uphold their code of ethics and maintain the highest standards of care for all their patients – be they incarcerated or not.
Finally, we call upon Governor Jerry Brown and CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard to enter into good faith negotiations with the prisoner representatives, and to respond to their demands, in order to end this crisis before more lives are lost.
Leading expert on prison health issues, Dr. Terry Kupers, signed on to the statement, adding, "The prisoners on hunger strike are making a courageous effort to speak up for their humanity and their rights.  It is extraordinarily callous of the CDCR and Governor Brown to ignore their plea for reasonable relief, and then to fail even in providing them adequate medical care." 

Ahnen reiterated the demands coming from many community members across the state: “The time has come for Governor Brown to end this strike now by ordering negotiations between prisoners and CDCR officials to begin immediately. There is only one question I have for Governor Brown:  how many more prisoners will you allow to die before you begin negotiations?”

A complete copy of the health providers' letter is attached and pasted below. 
Healthcare Providers and Professionals Denounce Medical Neglect in the Current California Prisoner Hunger Strike
Statement Endorsed by Over 100 (listed below) as of July 27, 2013

For the third time in three years, thousands of prisoners in California are currently on hunger strike, protesting the widespread use of punitive long-term solitary confinement in the Security Housing Units (SHUs), in some cases for over 30 years continuously.

The current strike began on July 8, and over 1,000 prisoners have now gone over two weeks without food, supported by over 30,000 who abstained from eating for shorter periods. Two years ago when the 2011 California prison hunger strikes mobilized over 12,000 people at their peak, the State agreed to make significant improvements in prison conditions; but has not carried through on most promised changes, particularly regarding use of long term and indefinite isolation.

As healthcare providers, we are issuing this statement to register our concern with reports that appropriate medical care is being denied the hunger striking prisoners. While there has been a concerted attempt by the authorities to censor the strikers to keep the strike out of the news, dozens of letters from affected strikers at a number of prisons have gotten out to supporters repeating similar details of medical neglect and abuse:
Medications are being withheld in an attempt to coerce prisoners into abandoning their protest. According to attorney Marilyn McMahon, pain relief medication in particular is being withheld, “even if it’s medicine that should not be cut abruptly, but instead tapered off.” In one case a patient with heart failure has had his medications discontinued on the dubious assertion that he doesn’t need them because he’s on a hunger strike. 
Prison medical staff are required to monitor the health of prisoners on hunger strike, yet we hear that some institutions are violating this protocol, including not weighing the hunger strikers as required. There are also reports that nurses who are required to conduct daily checks are simply advising the prisoners to drink a lot of water. In other cases physicians have been dismissive of patient complaints, prisoners in need are being refused care and ignored, and in some cases even mocked by the very healthcare practitioners they are supposed to be able to depend upon for care. 
Some prisoners have told the prison authorities that they are refusing solid foods only, but CDCR refuses to provide them with liquid sustenance other than water, and guards have even confiscated any such liquids that they had in their cells. 
Many prisoners have indicated that they are not being provided with medical release form #7385, which they need to send to their loved ones, family members or to outside supporters so that these people on the outside can access their medical records. 
Several prisoners have been reclassified as “not on hunger strike” because they have been accused of having food in their cells. This means that they “have to start over” and go 9 consecutive meals before being considered on hunger strike again, regardless of whether or not they have in fact broken their strike. Determining who is on hunger strike in such an arbitrary manner means that prisoners who may not have eaten for weeks will be dropped off the list for medical oversight. 

Similar denial of appropriate medical monitoring and medications occurred during the 2011 prisoners’ hunger strikes, and led concerned medical professionals to issue a statement condemning such coercive neglect as both unethical and illegal under California Penal Code Section 673. Furthermore, such acts of deliberate indifference to a patient’s serious medical needs constitute a violation of prisoners’ Eighth Amendment Constitutional rights. 

Today, we the undersigned find ourselves tragically having to echo the statement of two years ago, in registering our grave concern about these allegations, and in strongly urging Receiver J. Clark Kelso and the California Medical Board to investigate these claims. We urge CDCR to ensure that no prisoner on hunger strike be disciplined or threatened with the denial of medical care, that prisoners not be denied liquids, vitamins or any other form of sustenance they are willing to take, and that they receive appropriate medical care. We demand all medical professionals uphold their code of ethics and maintain the highest standards of care for all their patients – be they incarcerated or not.

Finally, we call upon Governor Jerry Brown and CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard to enter into good faith negotiations with the prisoner representatives, and to respond to their demands, in order to end this crisis before lives are lost.

Please note that all organizational affiliations are being listed for identification purposes only.
Henry Abrons MD; Berkeley 
Everett D. Allen MD; Crescent City
Nada Ashkar; Diploma in Acupuncture, CSCMA member, CTCMPAO candidate; Toronto, Canada
Lindsay Baukert BSN, RN, Nurse, Practitioner Student; University of Pennsylvania
Michaela Beder MD; New York City
Nazila Bettache MD CM; Montreal, Canada
Iris Biblowitz RN; San Francisco, CA
Lydia Ould Brahim; MScA Nursing Candidate, 2015, McGill University, Montreal, Qc
Nathan P. Brimmer EMT-B, RN; Portland, OR
Sweena Burroughs FNP; Berkeley,CA 
Nora Butler Burke; coordinator, ASTT(e)Q, Montréal, QC
Leah Jo Carnine PA-S2; Phoenix, AZ
Catherine Carter BSN, RN; Virginia
Diane Chamberlin FNP 
Claudia Chaufan MD; PhD Associate Professor of Sociology and Health Policy University of California San Francisco
Daisy Chen; Sanctuary Health Collective, Vancouver, BC
Mardge Cohen MD; Boston, MA
Josh Connor; medical student
Therese A. Coupez; L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM), San Francisco, CA
William C. Davis D.O., M.Div
Olivia deBree; RN
James Deutsch MD; PhD, FRCPC, Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
Mandeep Dhillon; Emergency Medicine Staff, Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico
Giselle Dias MA, Psychotherapist; London, Ontario
Michael Duncan RPA-C; Medical Director, Vocal-NY
Mark Eisenberg MD; Massachusetts General Hospital, Asst Prof of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Amie Fishman MPH; San Francisco
Margaret Flowers MD; Congressional Fellow, Physicians for Natl. Hlth Pgrm 
Eric Fryxell MD; Southeast Community Health Center, Inc.; Columbus, Ohio
Anne-Marie Gallant, RN B.Sc., Health Justice Collective, Montreal, Quebec
Miriam Garfinkle MD; Toronto, Canada.
Ritika Goel MD; MPH, Toronto
Warren Gold MD; Professor of Medicine Emeritus UCSF Medical School, San Francisco, CA
David Goldberg MD; Director, Section of Preventive Medicine; Past Medical Staff President, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County
Elliot Goodenough; 4th year medical student, Philadelphia, PA
Eleanor Gottesman MD; Cleveland, OH
Catherine P. Gros RN; Clinical Nurse Specialist, Montreal, Quebec
Lana Habash MD; Boston Medical Center; Boston, MA
Gregory Harper; PhD, CCHT
Sue Harris; co-Director Peoples Video Network, New York City
Khati Hendry MD 
Elizabeth Hillman BSN, CPM; Baltimore, MD
Wendy Hounsel, RN, RH(AHG); Eugene, OR
Helen Hudson RN; MSc(a), Montreal, Canada
Farha Najah Hussain; M.Sc (A), Speech-Language Pathologist, Montreal, Qc. Canada
David Ingleby; PhD, Mental Health researcher, Professor at Centre for Social Science and Global Health, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jonathan Irwin EMT-OR; Nursing Student
Brian Jack, MD; Chair, Department of Family Medicine; Boston Medical Center
Lara Jirmanus MD
Marcia Katz; Family Physician, Heartland Health Centers, Chicago, IL
Zak Kirwood; Medical Assistant, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Jim Kratzer MD 
Paige Kruza; Master of Public Health student, UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Terry Kupers MD
Peter Kusnierczyk FNP; San Francisco, CA 
Kate Lammers MFT Trainee
Catherine Landry; physical rehabilitation therapist and osteopathy student, Montréal, Canada
Bob Lederer; Host of "Health Action", WBAI/Pacifica Radio, New York
Vicki Legion; San Francisco, CA
Carolyn Levine; retired, Director, Public Health Clinic Services, Muscatine, Iowa
Judith Lienhard RN; Silverton Hospital, Portland Oregon
Abby Lippman; PhD, Professor Emerita, McGill University, Montréal, Québec
Cadelba Lomeli-Loibl RN; Oakland, CA
Kara MacLeod; DrPH Candidate, UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Abeer Majeed; Primary Care Physician, Toronto
Dana McCabe; Nurse practitioner, Boston, MA
David McLanahan MD; Clinical Assoc Professor of Surgery University of Washington School of Medicine
Howard Minkoff MD; Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
Hercules Morphopoulos DDS; Kensington, CA 
Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay MD; Timmins, Ontario, Canada
Nick Paretsky Housekeeper; University Hospital, University of Missouri - Columbia
Thea Patterson RN; Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, Waltham, MA
Robert M. Peck MD; FACC Associate Professor of Medicine Keck/USC School of Medicine
Melissa Pickles; Resident Psychiatrist, Montreal, Quebec
Kara Pravdo BSN, RN; Philadelphia, PA
Ryan E. Pryor CPM, RN, BSN; Philadelphia, PA
Nanky Rai MPH; Toronto, Canada, medical student
Sarah Reaburn RN; Inuvik NT Canada
Ash Robbins RN; Philadelphia PA
Susan Rosenthal, MD; International Health Workers for People Over Profit (IHWPOP); Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Suzanne Ross; Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, New York
Liz Samuels MD MPH
Marc Sapir MD, MPH; Ambulatory Care Division Alameda Health Services
Katherine Schaff; UC Berkeley Doctor of Public Health student with 10+ years of public health experience
Carrie Schiff RN; San Francisco, CA
Sophie Schoen RN; Montreal
Sonia Semenic RN; PhD, Montreal, Quebec
Alan Shafer MA, MFT; San Francisco, CA
Samir Shaheen-Hussain MD; Acute-Care Pediatrician and member of the Health Justice Collective, Montreal, Quebec
Prateeksha Sharma; Executive director, Handsadhwani Foundation, Faridabad, India
Heidi Lee Sinclair MD, MPH; New Orleans, LA
Tolbert Small MD; Sojourner Truth Medical Clinic, Oakland, CA
Shireen Soofi; Sanctuary Health, Coast Salish Territories
Linda Spangler MD; Ambulatory Care Division Alameda Health Services
Jean-Luc St-Amour; nursing student, Montreal, Quebec
William Steinsmith MD; San Francisco, CA
Nancy Stoller; PhD., Co-Founder, Jail and Prison Health Committee and Member, Governing Council, American Public Health Association
Gregory Tewksbury; Chair, Ethical Action Committee, Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
Trent Tripp PT, MSPT; Phoenix, AZ
William Wallin MD; Oakland, CA 
Li-hsia Wang MD; Berkeley, CA 
Dahlia Wasfi MD; Denver , CO
Amina Watson MD
Corey Weinstein MD
Scott Weinstein RN; Montreal, Quebec
Shawn Westfahl; Mutual Aid Street Medics, Philadelphia, PA
Laura Whitehorn; former senior editor, POZ magazine
Fred Wilkinson MD; Emergency Department (retired) Kaiser Permanente Group, Oakland, CA
Kay Will RN; palliative care/hospice nurse
Wilson Will; PhD in Anthropology of Medicine, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Donna Willmott MPH
JM Wong RN; Seattle, WA
Meghan Woods MDPGY-1; SFGH Family and Community Medicine
Susan Woolhouse MD; MClSc, CCFP, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON
Lorin Young; Resident Psychiatrist, Montreal, Quebec
Tanya L. Zakrison; Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, Ryder Trauma Center, University of Miami
This statement has also been endorsed by Sanctuary Health Collective (Coast Salish Territories), the Melbourne Anarchist Black Cross and the National Jericho Movement.  


Free All Political Prisoners!